Washington State’s Leach signs 28 players in his first recruiting class

PULLMAN — New Washington State football coach Mike Leach announced Wednesday that he had signed 28 players in his first recruiting class, including 14 from California.

The class featured five junior college transfers and four players from high schools in Washington. He also signed three Pacific Islanders.

Leach, who was hired in late November to replace Paul Wulff, had only about two months on the recruiting trail.

“It was a fast, furious team effort,” Leach said. “In the end, we are real excited about this class.”

Leach, known for his high-powered passing attacks, signed one quarterback, Austin Apodaca of Longmont, Colo.

“He’s one of the most accurate guys I ever had the opportunity to recruit,” Leach said.

With quarterbacks Jeff Tuel and Conner Halliday already on the roster, the Cougars were not looking for immediate help there, Leach said.

He also signed seven offensive linemen, a position that has been a problem in recent years, and five wide receivers.

“We are going to throw balls at a whole bunch of them,” Leach said. “I think it’s a good group of receivers.”

Key signees include linebacker Jeremiah Allison of Los Angeles, who is competing to be valedictorian of his class.

“He’s one of the most impressive stories of our class,” Leach said. “His quickness impresses me the most.”

Players from Washington include offensive lineman Sam Flor of Seattle, receiver Rahmel Dockery of Tacoma, linebacker Jacob Tuivaiave of Tacoma and offensive lineman B.J. Salmonson of Everson.

Leach said he plans a major emphasis on Washington players starting with his next recruiting class.

“We made some headway in Washington,” he said. “It’s going to be a huge emphasis for us in the spring.”

Leach signed two players from American Samoa, defensive tackle Robert Barber and defensive end Destiny Vaeao, and one from Hawaii, safety Taylor Taliulu.

“There’s some players over there,” said Leach, adding that a West Coast team like Washington State is in a good position to grab some.

Leach expected some immediate help from junior college transfers but could not predict which freshmen might make an immediate impact.

The junior college transfers include kicker Michael Bowlin, defensive tackle Ioane Gauta, offensive lineman Sam Jones, offensive lineman Niu Sale and running back Theron West.

West is a 5-foot-8, 170-pound speedster. The Cougars have had trouble running the ball in recent years.

The Cougars signed five linebackers, as Leach is looking for more speed at that position.

Leach, who had a highly successful decade at Texas Tech before being fired in 2009, said he placed an emphasis on recruiting in Southern California this year and that would continue.

“They view the world as bigger than Southern California and don’t mind having the opportunity to go and see it,” Leach said.

Leach noted that WSU signed players from Florida to America Samoa, covering six time zones.

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